Best of the Best for 2013

Favorites from the current year

By Travis Rogers
By Travis Rogers

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Jazz Favorites of 2013

Solo Recording:
Keith Jarrett - No End (ECM Records)
This is not Jarrett on solo piano! Rather, he plays electric guitar, electric bass, drums and percussion with only a whiff of piano.

Duo Recording:
Randy Klein’s Two Duos - What’s Next (Jazzheads Records)
Klein alternates duos with Boris Kozlov (bass) and Alex Skolnik (guitar)

Trio Recording:
George Colligan Trio - The Endless Mysteries (Origin Records)
with Larry Grenadier (bass) and the incomparable Jack DeJohnette (drums)

Quartet Recording:
Hristo Vitchev Quartet - Familiar Fields (First Orbit Sounds Music)
Called "Impressionistic Jazz," Vitchev has brought together an ideal line-up, especially Weber Iago (piano)

Debut Recording:
I Know You Well Miss Clara - Chapter One (MoonJune Records)
Producer Leonardo Pavkovic's brilliant discovery from Indonesia

Guitar Jazz Album:
John Scofield - Uberjam Deux (EmArcy)
Scofield continues to inspire and amaze

Piano Jazz Album:
Aaron Parks - Arborescence (ECM Records)
Brilliant young pianist with his first ECM solo recording

Sax Jazz Album:
Sadao Watanabe - Outra Vez (Red River Entertainment)
Watanabe celebrates 60 years in music in 2013. This is his first return to Brazil in 25 years.

Urban Jazz Album:
Robert Glasper Experiment - Black Radio 2 (Blue Note-Universal)
Glasper may be the best thing to happen to Jazz since...Sydney Bechet.

Avant-Garde Jazz Album:
Mike Mahaffay - Reflections on a Symphony (Mahaffay’s Musical Archives)
An astonishing interpretation of Charles Ives' Universe Symphony

Progressive Jazz Album:
simakDialog - The 6th Story (MoonJune Records)
Together for 20 years, the West is finally hearing these brilliant musicians from Indonesia.

Latin Jazz Album:
Chucho Valdes & the Afro-Cuban Messengers - Border Free (Jazz Village)
71 years old and still going strong, Chucho is the great link to the wonderful heritage of Afro-Cuban music.

Fusion Jazz Album:
Sharp Three - Zero Cool (Sharp Three Music)
Brothers Goh and Kai Kurosawa team with Chuck Haeckle to create thrilling adventures in fusion.

Live Performance of 2013:
Melissa Aldana - The 2013 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition
Melissa is rewarded for what she already proved in her first two albums--that she is the future of Jazz sax.

YouTube Performance of 2013:
Mike Prigodich & MPEG - “Lucy Goose” Live @ Jimmy Mak’s 8/26/2013
Prigodich is a masterful composer/pianist and is joined by the the best of the best in Damian Erskine (bass) and the amazing Reinhardt Melz (drums). Watch the bass solo. It sounds like flamenco on bass.

2013 Crossover Artist of the Year:
Berta Rojas - Salsa Roja (Onmusic Recordings)
Berta is a classically-trained guitarist who is at home in any genre. Stunning beauty.

Best Surprise of 2013:
Jawanza Kobie - Feels Better Than It Sounds (JKM)
Jawanza Kobie has had a great career writing film scores and soundtracks but this is him doing what we wish he had been doing for 20 years. But it has been worth the wait.

2013 Jazz Composer of the Year:
George Colligan. With two albums this year and with musicians going from Jaleel Shaw and Donald Edwards to Boris Kozlov and Jack DeJohnette, Colligan writes ideal passages for each musician, especially for himself on piano. Colligan is a genius.

2013 Jazz Album of the Year:
Spyro Gyra - The Rhinebeck Sessions (Crosseyed Bear Productions)
Sometimes derided as pop-Jazz, Spyro Gyra has inspired and entertained for nearly 40 years. With a new drummer, they have been re-energized and have shown that they will be around for a long time.

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Travis Rogers